Our Art and State: Abode of Gods and Creativity

                                                                                    Dr. Shekhar Chandra Joshi

Dean Faculty of Visual Art

Kumaon University, SSJ Campus

 Almora, Uttarakhand, India

Tel. + 91-05962-230720 (Res.)

Mob. 9719332735

e-mail > [email protected]


It gives me immense pleasure to be with great personalities like you attending the Camp and Seminar in the state Orissa known as the land of Beyond the Shores.  I am grateful to Orissa Lalit Kala Academi Bhubneshwar for inviting me to attend the 2nd National Artists Camp and Seminar. I am delighted to present my paper entitled Our Art and State: Abode of Gods and Creativity.
The present paper highlights the art and art scenario of Uttarakhand State including the art of self expression. Before presenting it the paper will reveal the general introduction of Uttarakhand and my art. Further, it will focus on few points that should be forwarded to the central and state governments both as a suggestion for their implementation for the sake of overall development of the society and art in the field.
Let me also express my pleasure in introducing myself, I am Shekhar Chandra Joshi from the State Uttarakhand along with my fellow artist Dr. Mamta Singh from the Same state. I am working as a Reader in the Department of Drawing and Painting in Kumaon University SSJ Campus Almora. Visual Arts and Design is our sister department within the art faculty in the campus started three years back is growing as a kind of the first and foremost in the field of art education within the State.
You would believe that I am feeling great joy in participating in this camp and seminar as much as ever before, attending many camps and seminars in the past within the country and outside the country in Korea, France, Canada and Australia.
I have explored different thoughts, mediums and techniques for my painting. I would like to quote the words from Amrit Bazar Patrika, Kolkatta as written on 3rd February 1996 by Ms. Anandita Tamta about my work The imagination, of the artist, Shekhar Chandra Joshi is touched by such fights and the outcome of it, as is evident from his work (Uttarakhand ka Sangharsh). The dazzling colours of the painting makes the idea more conspicious and vivid. This oil painting was purchased by Lalit Kala Academi, New Delhi.
I got an extra attention to develop a new kind of technique titled Finger Nail Painting. I could not forget the moments spent with the former President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam and others. He and others asked me very excitingly about my kind of art saying that let me/us know about it. How do you do draw and paint with finger nails? I made many paintings with finger nails including the portrait of Dr. Kalam.
I exhibited my Solo Show of fingernails paintings entitled Fantasy of Raga: The Search for Ecstasy at first in U.P. State Lalit Kala akademi in the year 1999 when I was Reader in Fine Arts in the Assam (Central) University Silchar. According to HT correspondent printed in the Hindustan Times, Lucknow on January 13, 1999 The paintings are a unique combination of symbolic, figurative, abstraction and linearity art. Billed as an experiment by Dr Shekhar Chandra Joshi with music to express his everlasting chaos of fantasy with real dreams, the exhibition of Ragamala series of paintings was inaugurated by the Lalit Kala Akademi Chairman, Professor Yogendra  Nath Yogi.

According to the Times of India coverage regarding to above said exhibition said the critic, Raag and paints may sound little off beat once you speak of them held together but then but it did not do so to the prolific and gifted painter from the Kumaon- Shekhar Joshi. A man who has travelled world-wide is currently holding an exhibition of his latest series Fantasy of Raga: The Search for Ecstasy. If one has been to the Lalit Kala Academy to see his work put up for display one has to admit that indeed it is a perfect blend of colours to the rhythm of melodious music.

I had a chance to work with Orissan artist Jyoti Ranjan Panigrahi in the camp held in Mansar, Jammu & Kashmir organized by Lalit Kala Kendra New Delhi and Jammu Academy in the year 2001. I remember the waves beyond the shores raised in my mind to meet him and also see the work of Dr. Dinanath Pathy and others in 1995. I tried personally to launch Uttarakhand Artist Association with the help of other like minded artists Imtiyaz Ali Khan, Ganga Dutta, Anand, Usha, Pushpa, and Charu for conducting several art activities in the field within and outside the region, and then it was in Uttar Pradesh. I became successful registering the Association entitled Uttarakhand Artists Welfare Association in the year 1996. Besides, at present Uttaranchal Kala Parisad is working in the state starting from 2000 launched by artist and former Secretary Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi Professor B.P. Kamboj and others.
Uttarakhand, the earlier named Uttaranchal is the 27th state of Indian republic. Kumaun and Garhwal are two important region of Uttarakhand.  It had a population of 8.48 million in the census of 2001. Dehradun is the capital of the State. Hindi is the principal language of business and administration. Besides, regional Hindi dialects and other indigenous languages are spoken in the state.
The rolling foothills, fertile river valleys, and snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas form the majestic landscape of Uttarakhand.  Nanda Devi, one of the highest Himalayan peaks at 7,817m (25,646 ft), is located in the northeastern part of the state. Alaknanda, Bhagirathi (Ganga), Yamuna etc. are the major rivers of Uttarakhand. Corbett National Park, Ramnagar, Nainital, Mussoorie etc. are the popular places. The climate of Uttarakhand varies according to elevation.
Swami Vivekanand, Madan Mohan Malviya, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatama Gandhi, Brooster and other luminaries have drawn inspirationfrom this beautiful state (a region, then the part of Uttar Pradesh). Uttarakand has produced many renowned personalities in different walks of life, Padamshri R. S. Bisht, Awatar Singh Panwar, C.P Joshi, J.P. Joshi, G.B. Pant, Sumitra Nandan Pant, H. N. Bahuguna, General B. C. Joshi, Padamshri Yashodhar Mathpal, Padamshri Shekhar Pathak, Padamshri K. S. Valdia, Padamshri H. C. S. Rawat, Padamshri B. D. Pandey ICS, Sundar Lal bahuguan, Jaspal Rana, Mahendra Singh Dhauni and many others.
Art is an exchange of feelings, signs, and thoughts. Inspiring joyfully it also attracts the viewer or listener for the same. It can be displayed by visual and performing depictions for its recipients. Hence it is a simple way of communication. Besides it works for a better function. It brings relaxation to our body, mind and soul and also inspires to create a new work of art.
Uttarakhand has rich artistic heritage. Chholia, Jhaura, Chancheri Chapeli, Bhagnaula etc. are major performing folk arts of Uttarakhand. These are performed during marriages, fairs, religious rituals, and other occasional ceremonies. Nanda Jat is a peculiar tradition of performing art.
Chholia is a war dance. The performers of Chholia wear unique garments having coloured steps on white based dress. The dance begins with the blowing of the Beenbaja- Musk Been or Bagpipe and sound beatings of Dhol and Damuas, in that music two people with shield and sword perform the dance. Not a single woman participates in this dance.
Jhora is a group dance performed spontaneously in a circle by men and women. Jagar, Baisi, Ramoli, Jhumelia and Ghaneli performed in dance- music are ritualistic ceremonies. Thadya and Chancheri are a free-movement dance and a kind of playful competition respectively based on love.
A dramatic performance played by two men is called Chhapeli in which one acts as a woman. Hurkiya Bol is an enchanting dance-music performed in the harvesting fields when women do the works of sowing, hoeing, and implanting especially during the Kharif corp. The dances of Uttarakhand Tribes have their own way of performing their art. Ramlila Manchan of Uttarakhand has played a vital role in establishing this art. The Ramlila of Laxmi Bhandar (Hukka Club) Almora and Jagar/Dhol Dance of Garhwal are currently very famous.           
At present Uttarakhand has pride to have an evidence of prehistoric rock paintings in the state. On the bank of the Suyal River near Barechina in Almora, two painted rock shelters reveal paintings of animals, humans and also drawn with fingers in black, red and white colours. Painting including the folk arts has an important place in Indian art.
Garhwal School of Painting of Uttarakhand has played an important role in Indian art.  About the middle of the 17th century A.D. Suleman Shikoh, a Mughal Prince, took refuge in Garhwal. The prince brought along with him an artist and his son who were his court painters and well versed in the Mughal style of miniature painting. After nineteen months, the prince left Garhwal but his court painters enchanted by the environment, stayed behind. These painters settled in Srinagar (currently in Pauri District of Uttarakhand), the then capital of the Panwar dynasty and introduced the Mughal style painting in Garhwal. With the passage of time, the successors of these original masters became expert painters and also developed an original style of their own. This style later on came to be known as the Garhwal School of Painting. 
Maularam, Jwalaram, Tejram, Brijnath were the great masters of the Garhwal School. A rich collection of Maularams contributions are displayed in the H.N.B. Garhwal University Museum at Srinagar and Maularam Art Gallery, Srinagar. The credit goes to Bairistar Mukandilal who introduced first the importance of the paintings of Garhwal School. The masterpieces of the Garhwal School of Painting include the following:

  1. 1.     Illustrations of Ramayana (1780 A.D.)
  2. 2.     Illustrations of Gita Govinda
  3. 3.     Celebrations of Balaramas Birthday (1780 A.D.)
  4. 4.     Series of Raginies
  5. 5.     Nayikaon ka Ankan
  6. 6.     Paintings of Radha and Krishna
  7. 7.     Kaiya Daman
  8. 8.     Krishna Lifting Mountain

The main theme of the paintings is based on religious background along with the depiction of the natural beauty of the people and region. Delicate eye brows and thin nose with definite nose bridge on soft oval shaped face, sandal on forehead, beautiful women with fully developed breasts, thin waist line reflect the special features of the Garhwal School to spread a message of love in fusion of religion and romance.
Temple architecture of Uttarakhand has richness and contributes to the ocean of the great Indian architecture. It is said by Swarn Lata Mishra regarding the Indian Sun temples Among ancient Indian Sun- temples, Martanda Temple in Kashmir, Modhera Sun Temple in Gujrat and Konark in Orissa are world famous for their beautiful architecture and grandeur.  Uttarakhand has a pride to have sun temples. On the top of the hill designed in its original way the biggest and most impressive sun temple is built in Katarmal near Kosi Almora in Kumaon. In Garhwal there is also a Sun Temple in Palethi, 7 km from Hindolkhal.  
Pun, Katuyaris, Panwars, and Chand dynasties of the region built big stone temples in different places such as Adi Badri, Kedarnath, Tungnath, Kamleshwar, Lakhamandal in the Garhwal region and Baijnath, Dwarahat, Champawat Gangolihat, Jageshwar, Nandadevi, are in Kumaon region. Some of these temples were erected with highly intricate and ornamental carving, having beautiful idols. According to Purnima Pande The salient features of this style of architecture are the lotus shaped roof, lion over the elephant which is projected over lower Shikhara normally covering the audience hall and outer walls executed either in Panch Rath or Sapta Rath pattern, giving the temple a cylindrical shape. The main temple is invariably surrounded by a couple of smaller temples, which house deities of lower hierarchy. (Dr. Purnima Pande)     
The woodcarving of Uttarakhand is famous for its beautiful designs. Wooden doors and windows of houses are carved with the designs of creepers and floral forms based on lotus, pomegranates and grapes, images of Gods and Goddesses, humans, birds, animals and other sacred signs and emblems. Folk art has played a vital role in Uttarakhand. Aipan, Peeth, Patas, Dekara, Rangwali etc. are the folk arts of Uttarakhand. Almost every ceremony and festival starts with the visualization of these.
Several eminent and budding artists of this state are exploring their way of art communication world wide. Mohd. Saleem, Mukul Panwar, Pankaj Panwar, Surendra Joshi, Ekeshwar Hatwal, D. S. Rawat, Devendra Nayak, Ishan Bahuguna, Mamta Singh,  Jag Mohan Bangani etc. are among them including myself  too.
Apart from attracting tourists to the state with brochures and presentations, the Uttarakhand Tourism Department had hit upon a novel idea to woo prospective tourists with paintings of the picturesque hill State to organize an artist camp in the Ananda in the Himalaya at Narendra Nagar in the year 2002. Jatin Das (an eminent artist basically from Orissa), Gopi Gajwani, Sunil Das, Yusuf Arakal, Rajiv Lochan, Shamsad Husain, Harsh Vardhan, Rinni Dhumal, Amitabh Das, Apurv Desai, Subrato Kunddu, Anupam Sud, C. M. Mishra and Shekhar Chandra Joshi participated in this camp.
Another Artists Camp was organized by the Department of Culture of Uttarakhand in collaboration with NZCC Chandigarh in Parmarth Niketan at Rishikesh in the year 2006. Baldev Ghambhir, Ishwar Dayal, Rohit Kumar, Avnish Mishra, Roopam B. Duna, Rakesh Kumar, Hemant Rao, Umesh Kumar, Basant Keshav, Ram Singh, Awdhesh Mishra, Shekhar Chandra Joshi, C. M. Mishra and others attended the camp. The convener of the camp was Dr. Lalta Prasad.
Thus it shows that Uttarakhand has a unique combination of creativity including the abodes of God and the state has added to the splendor and glory of Art, a rich part of India. 
Nevertheless, following points are raised in my mind to promote the art and welfare of the artists including the welfare of the society.

  1. 1.     Government should release an order to all the departments that they should decorate their departments with the artifacts made by the local artists instead of printed materials. It will encourage to the art and artists automatically.   
  2. 2.     There are several programme funded by Ministry of Science to make science popular among the students. Unfortunately we do not have any such funding agency to make art popular among the students especially in the field of visual arts.
  3. 3.     There are several funding agencies for the science scholars ready to provide the expenses to attend any national and international seminars/ conferences/ workshops. In the field of visual arts we do not have such funding agencies that provide the expenses for this purpose. 
  4. 4.     Indian Government including Indira Gandhi National Open University could not start distant learning courses in the field to the students of visual arts.
  5. 5.     Unfortunately artists especially painters and sculptors etc. in the field of visual arts do not have the provision to seek 50% discount while they travel by rail to attend any artistic meet/ function. However this kind of facility is being provided to the sports persons.  
  6. 6.     Art of any state should be properly preserved and exhibited; Our state Uttarakhand does not have any Lalit Kala Academi to do this kind of work. However other state academies of the country are fulfilling this kind of work.
  7. 7.     Indian Administrative Service and Public Service Commission (Lok Seva Aayog) of each state should include the theory course of visual arts for those students who have studied and passed out in the subject up to graduation and post graduation level for the several examinations like IAS and PCS.
  8. 8.     Art should be compulsory up to the high school level including their states art and artists in the syllabus.
  9. 9.     Americans for the Arts has developed an online toolkit to help arts organizations respond effectively in times of crisis. The Arts Funding Response and Readiness Kit provides current information, key messaging, communications and advocacy strategies, and the research you need to make the case for keeping the arts in your community. Our government should plan to bring out such information.

At last, I have in my mind that a time will come soon when our government will provide all the facilities as mentioned above to the visual artists like the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes of the country to promote them due to their having, by and large, a close affinity along with nature. It seems they were the true friends of our nature. It is our true dream to save the nature first with love and peace along with global artistic harmony on this earth. Following words in the form of a poem would appeal to you as a gist of my above paper.
I offer you beauty. You offer the same.
I offer you friendship. You offer the same.
I offer you love. You offer the same.
I offer you peace. You offer the same.
I hear your need. You hear the same.
I communicate myself. You communicate the same.
I create the art. You create the same.
Let us work for the community and its communication.

  1. 1.     Anandita Tamta, Anand Bazar Patrika, Kolkatta, February 03, 1996
  2. 2.     Hindustan Times, Lucknow, January 13, 1999
  3. 3.     Times of India, Lucknow, January, 1999
  4. 4.     Uma Prasad Thapliyal, Uttaranchal Etihasik Avem Sanskritik Aayam, B. R. Publishing Corporation Ltd., Delhi, 2005, pp- 9 & 156
  5. 5.     Dr. Purnima Pande, Art Heritage of Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas, Director Tourism (Hills), Dehradun, Year Not Printed, pp-8 & 9
  6. 6.     Dr. Swarn Lata Mishra, Sun Worship In India, International Journal of  Visual Arts Studies and Communication (IJVASC), Vol-1, 1998, p-49
  7. 7.     Dr. Purnima Pande, Art Heritage of Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas, Director Tourism (Hills), Dehradun, Year Not Printed, p-4

 (This paper presented in the 2nd National Artists Workshop with Seminar organized by Orissa Lalit Kala Academy at Bhubneshwar ).

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